Maximize Your Social Media Results

How digital media channels can invigorate a cohesive marketing program

When we talk about using social media for our business, we often forget to add the word marketing. This omission causes us to distance it from traditional marketing efforts, relegating social media into what is known as a “silo.” For those unfamiliar with the term, silos are independent divisions working within a single organization. Since social media is still so new and specialized, that team is often sectioned off, separate from overall marketing efforts. Occasionally, there are even separate teams for related digital channels such as the website and email marketing. This kind of isolation limits the impact social media can have on a business—and weakens the potential of the marketing department as a whole.

To receive the maximum return on investment on digital channels such as Facebook and Twitter, those platforms must be fully integrated into your marketing program. As digital and traditional channels converge and social media matures into a viable marketing outlet, there will be a need for a well-oiled marketing machine within every organization.

Gini Dietrich and Geoff Livingston cover this territory in their latest book, Marketing in the Round, which smartly analyzes social media in the context of an overall marketing scheme. They urge retailers to organize anyone working on marketing into a single team known as the Marketing Round. This includes traditional and digital marketing teams as well as financial decision-makers. A Marketing Round should also embrace everything from digital venues—search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), email and content marketing, social media, and websites—along with traditional efforts such as TV, radio and print advertising, public relations, and direct mail.

Rather than working solely on social media or direct marketing programs, this all-inclusive committee should seek to create fully integrated programs. The idea is to start with a desired outcome and then determine which marketing channels best support a specific effort. No one is out of the loop, as all major decisions are made as a whole, and each opportunity is maximized by considering how it might benefit from every possible channel. There is no pushback from financial powers-that-be; because they, too, are a part of the Marketing Round, they’ll have already bought into any potential plans. This approach limits miscommunication, reduces infighting, and sets clear expectations for each department. Less time is wasted and better results are achieved. 

Is social media part of your marketing?

According to Dietrich, businesses that exclude or segment social media do so at their own peril. “Social media is just a tool to be used in an overall marketing strategy,” she writes. “Because many companies are still trying to figure out its effectiveness and whether or not it can be measured, they’re asking someone inside the organization to do it when they can.” She points out, however, “If you integrate social into the overarching marketing strategy, instead of as a stand-alone tactic, you find that it not only builds community and brand ambassadors, but that it creates kinship, which drives purchase.”

It is essential that teams work together in the planning and execution phases of a marketing program; it is equally important that they review the successes and failures of each program. This starts by setting clear roles and goals at the onset, making it possible to examine the effectiveness of every team member and every channel. This will help identify which channels work most effectively for different types of initiatives, thus creating a culture of data-driven decision-making.

Plenty of businesses have fully embraced social media, yet few have done what is needed to make it a part of a cohesive marketing team (or Marketing Round). Even those with robust social marketing programs rarely leverage those efforts for traditional pursuits. Incorporating your social media efforts into a larger marketing campaign will not only ensure clarity and effectiveness for your digital pursuits, but will also result in a well-organized, well-integrated team with the potential to significantly improve your entire business.

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